When they finally discover my bones —
should the occasion ever arise
that a future someone stumbles upon me
while clearing a plot for Hydrangeas,
tomatoes or more bones —
when they crack through and find
the cracks I’ve put in this
old skeleton, will they wonder
what this being did to collect so many
breaks in his framing pieces?
Will they see the two scarred ribs
and know that each happened in
a different winter of my discontent?
Will they wonder over the dents and
cracks in the skull, and think it was
the castle keep of a warrior’s mind?
Or that of a poet who always tried playing
above his program weight, usually failed,
but never failed to try again?
I wonder if they’ll see my family placed
my coach’s whistle around my neck,
my tablet in one hand and this secret optimist’s
(broken) fingers crossed one upon the other?
What they won’t find will be any markers
of regret on this old fossil for any
of this busted crockery of mine left behind.
I gladly earned each and every one of them.
Day 26 of NaPoWriMo calls for a poem about what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us. I took that prompt it right down to the bones. My bones.
If not a high crime
it surely was a misdemeanor
he relived along with
his fantastic projections
based on what-if and if-only.
But the five-and-dimer
never made his big score,
only cased the joint,
admired the merchandise
and drew closer and closer
in a tightening coil
until he choked on
the perfume of the object
of his obsession.
He sighs, replaying
all the times he coulda
and shoulda. But it was
his heart ending up
her stolen property.
In its place he keeps
the faded Wanted poster
to keep him warm while
doing life in solitary.
Another mashed-up metaphor strung out over 100 words in what might be an anti-Valentine’s Day poem. But really, it’s a love poem in its own way.
You’d think otherwise, wouldn’t you,
but sleep has never come easy for me.
Not the tucked-in for the night sleep,
not the snuggled close and content sleep.
Mine is the toss and turn sleep,
the stare at the ceiling dark so long
my eyes adjust to see shadows you’d
never see. Shadows I don’t wish to.
I’d never wake you to tell what I see.
I can’t. If I reach right or left
all I can feel is empty.
Covers twisted and fallen, I turn over
and tell my pillow, but a pillow
will only echo what you lay upon it,
no spontaneity or warmth other than
what I put into it. And still,
sleep evades me, or teases me with
a veiled unconsciousness that lasts
maybe an hour or so, over and over.
So the thing I crave most
is the thing I most fear and despise,
something in the dark that pulls me under
and spits me back out like words
I never said except here. That might be
why sleep does not come easy for me
as it does for you. Because you sleep
just fine, right? Tucked in for the night
and snuggled close and content.
Another night, like so many other nights. Haven’t written about my bête noire in a long time. This morning I couldn’t help but.
When the light of day follows the sun
to its westward bed, and clouds tuck in
the moon and stars, I sometimes wonder
what it would have been like.
That’s when I see my clearest,
when the distractions of the real
don’t encroach on this vision moment
where the voice in my head echoes the same
sad reverie as perhaps yours might.
That’s why I share this bed with
naught but a weighty conjunction,
a supposition called on account of darkness,
a two-letter regret wrapped in desire
and a vision of you in the not-there.
I must admit to feeling the chill
of a February day, followed by the scorch
of an August afternoon, repeated in
sine wave oscillations, like freezing
and flaming merry-go-round ponies,
when you spoke in my presence
that first time. You wouldn’t direct
your voice to me for quite a while afterward.
When you did, I became an ice cream cone
dipped in warm butterscotch,
inevitably, comfortably a puddle
of gooey sweetness. So odd for one
who spent life dispensing vinegary ripostes
to a bitter world of echoes
rippling one over another,
like a pond’s face in autumn rain.
Your voice became my favorite sweater,
warm, soft, an aural hug bringing me
everyday joy I too soon unraveled,
leaving me cold, frozen to the talk of others.
Their voices raveled into confusing,
cacophonous snarls, tripping and dropping me
into the dank well from which we were lifted
If you would speak to me one more time,
I’m might feel some similar feelings
to that first time, probably from fear
and embarrassment. Or perhaps deafened
numbness of a man who never listened
to his own words before they snipped
the knitted purls binding us together,
yarn by whispered yarn.
Poem Number Two in my self-imposed quest to express the senses by using a different sense. In this case I used Touch to express Hearing, though admittedly hearing something quite special that the speaker eventually lost to his own inability to listen.
You sit there
in the room with them
when the spirits escape
their earthly shells
upon a final exhalation.
And you gasp, your breath
catching in your throat,
perhaps to capture,
your last chance to share
life with them.
But you do not cry.
You stand there,
as the family says
their finally goodbyes
before the priest
puts away his book,
with a solemn “Amen,”
a wholly holy punctuation
ending this latest story as
holy water runs down
the casket’s cheeks.
But you do not cry.
You hug and say your
you know you won’t see
most of your lucky
until the next of you
flies and falls. You
really don’t want to,
because you’re supposed
to be the strong one.
And you do not cry.
Then you go home
to your lonely place,
where you tend all
like you would adorn
their gravesides, only
upon these pages,
written in this ink
almost none have
ever seen, only read.
Only now do you cry.
A poem written hard, fast and free in my alleged easy chair. It’s based on a prompt from my friend Kellie Elmore: Write about the last time you cried. I’ve had too much reason and opportunity in my life of late to shed tears, but didn’t. Not then. Now you know when I did.
Cover of first English language edition. The design is based upon a German war bonds poster by Fritz Erler. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Can read, won’t read.
Would read, don’t read.
That book sits face up on the table
next to me, it’s eyes staring at
my sheepish ones, like those
of a portrait that follow you
around the room, accusing, unblinking.
Or maybe they’re like
those of that dead French soldier
lying in the crater with Paul Bäumer
in All Quiet on the Western Front,
another book I never finished.
Like Paul, I feel remorse, loss,
over somehow killing my old hunger.
I was once voracious like you,
but lost the combat for my consciousness
and now I lie here, paralyzed,
with my toes framing that big screen,
notebook and tablet on my lap,
pinned down in my depression by this
bombardment of distractions.
I want to pick up that book and
conquer it, but, shell-shocked by media,
all I do is numbly flip a couple of pages
and place it face-down again.
I really wish I could be like you,
finishing every bit of reading you…
Hey, where’d you go?
My deepest apologies to my friends Claudia and Quirina if I have butchered the German words in the title. I wanted to express my paralyzing feeling of loss and remorse. Which I feel…I really do.